Caffeine and Pregnancy

Caffeine and Pregnancy

There has been a lot of debate about connection between caffeine and pregnancy complications in the recent years. A study that was published in 2008 found that even moderate amounts of caffeine consumption during pregnancy significantly increase the risk of miscarriage. However, another study published two years later rejected the findings of the 2008 study. According to this study that researched the connection between caffeine and pregnancy complications as well, there is no evidence for harmful effects of caffeine on growth and development of the baby nor the course of pregnancy if caffeinated beverages are drank in moderate amounts. So, which one is right and how much caffeine is safe to consume during pregnancy?

The majority of health experts believe that caffeine cannot be blamed for preterm labor, miscarriage, fetal growth restriction and other pregnancy complications that have been attributed to caffeine consumption for many years. This is due to the fact that several recent studies failed to find any connection between caffeine and pregnancy complications, of course if consumed in limited amounts. It seems that 200 milligrams of caffeine a day which equals about 12 ounce cup of coffee can do no harm. However, more than 200 milligrams of caffeine could be dangerous for your baby and should be never exceeded.

Whether to limit caffeine consumption during pregnancy to that one 12 ounce cup of coffee a day or avoid all caffeinated products completely is up to you although it may be a good idea to avoid caffeine if you have a history of miscarriage or if having a high risk-pregnancy. If you cannot or do not want to give up your morning coffee, for instance you do not have to but make sure that you do not exceed those 200 milligrams. Also, keep in mind that coffee is not the only source of caffeine. It can be also found in black and green tea, energy drinks, soft drinks, chocolate and even some over-the-counter painkillers and medications. In addition, the amount of caffeine in coffee varies greatly from one brand to another, while even decaffeinated coffee contains about 5 to 10 milligrams of caffeine.

Please be very careful if you drink coffee during pregnancy because you can easily exceed those safe 200 milligrams if you do not pay attention to other potential sources of caffeine. They tend to be lower in caffeine content than coffee (a 6 ounce cup of green tea has about 30 milligrams of caffeine and black tea about 50 milligrams) but if you already drank a 12 ounce cup of coffee you should drink a can of Coca Cola (30 milligrams of caffeine), for instance.

Women who decide to continue to consume caffeine during pregnancy should be also aware that caffeine interferes the body’s ability to absorb iron, a nutrient which is very important during pregnancy. For that reason it may be a good idea to consider avoiding caffeine completely if having problems with low iron. If you drink caffeinated beverages anyway, you should drink them between meals because they will have less effect on iron absorption than if drank the first thing in the morning, for instance.